The offense heads to the line of scrimmage. Center Drew Dalman puts his right hand down, clutching the ball in anticipation of the snap.
Quarterback Jack Richardson lines up in the shotgun, reads the defense, and checks into a different play. Dalman snaps the ball back to him with a flick of the wrist, powering his hands up to stop an oncoming defensive lineman.
But this isn’t 2015, when the duo helped power the Palma football team to a 10-2 record and a league title. This was Saturday at the Stanford spring football game, where the longtime friends and teammates have gone from Palma’s red and gold to Stanford’s cardinal and white.
With family legacies tracing from Salinas back to the university, it’s no surprise to see the two former Chieftains suited up for the Cardinal.
Dalman’s father, Chris, forged the same path playing both sides of the line for the Chieftains before making his way north to play for the Cardinal. He spent four seasons with Stanford, later getting drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1993 and winning a Super Bowl after the 1994 season.
On his college signing day, Dalman recalled a letter he wrote in fifth grade.
“I said that my biggest dream was to play football at Stanford when I was older,” Dalman said. “It was something I saw and I realized how cool and unique that was and something I wanted to strive to get to.”
Now, he’s the starting center for the Cardinal and spent part of Saturday’s spring game snapping to Richardson, who has a similar familial history.
His father, Kevin, played linebacker for the Cardinal in the mid-1980s and led the team in tackles in 1987. His mother, Teresa, was Pac-10 women’s volleyball conference player of the year in 1988 and a member of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2003.
Richardson first joined the team as a walk-on but earned a scholarship in a memorable end to last season’s spring game, stepping up into a starting role due to injuries.
He performed well in that situation, which didn’t surprise Palma coach Jeff Carnazzo.
“Whenever we needed someone to step up, Jack would step up,” he said of Richardson at the prep level. “When you have someone like Jack, you have someone special.”
Before the regular season starts in August, the spring football game pits the offense and defense against each other in the first live action in front of a crowd. Last season saw the defense win with Richardson spending the entire game in at quarterback.
Since then, Dalman started four games and played in another three for the Cardinal at center and guard. Richardson continued to improve his game as a backup quarterback in preparation for playing time should an injury to starter K.J. Costello force him to come in.
“I go out every day and throw the ball for one to two hours,” Richardson said. “Whether I have some receivers out here or just some blocking dummies… (I’m) just trying to improve my game overall as a quarterback.”
In Saturday’s game, Dalman spent the entire game anchoring the offensive line at center as the defense won 20-14. While Costello was sacked a few times, Dalman rarely got beat in pass protection and looked in command of the line. He called out protections multiple times and pointed out assignments to the guards and tackles beside him.
When Richardson came in, communicating with the quarterback was even easier for Dalman.
“We’ve been playing together for so long,” Dalman said. “A lot of the nonverbal communication was already there.”
It was reassuring for Richardson as well, whose limited action included a scramble to the right side on a broken play.
“It’s great having a guy that you’ve known basically since third grade is a great comfort,” he said. “So whenever things get hard in a workout or in school, it’s nice to have a go-to guy to talk to about anything.”
This fall they’ll have plenty to talk about. Dalman’s poised to be the starting center for the Cardinal this season.
“(The offensive line) is coming together well,” Dalman said. “We’ve had the same five starters through all of camp and that’s been good for us.”
Meanwhile, Richardson’s the most experienced backup quarterback on the team behind Costello.
“The first-string guys are going to get all the starting reps,” Richardson said. “That’s how it goes. It’s on me as a backup to be ready at all times.”
On Aug. 31, the two longtime teammates will be back on the field for regular season action in the Cardinal’s first game against Northwestern.
Ayrton Ostly peruses Twitter, fields, courts and tracks throughout Salinas looking for stories from the community. Have a tip? Drop an email to email@example.com and subscribe for full access to all of The Californian’s local news coverage.